The lottery for the Indy Preschool Scholarship Program (Indy PSP) happens this week, and approximately 1,300 of the more than 5,000 families who applied for the program will be chosen to receive a scholarship for their three- and four-year-olds to attend a Level 3 or 4 program on the state’s Paths to QUALITY ranking system.
Jason Kloth, the city’s Deputy Mayor for Education, says his office did not expect this many applicants, especially considering there is an estimated 6,000-12,000 eligible children in the city who qualify for the program.
“To see that kind of response in a fairly short window of time for a program in the first year of its inception is just exceptional,” Kloth says. “It’s just a testament to the great work of the United Way of Central Indiana and the Indiana Neighborhood Resource Center.”
Selected families will receive a letter next week, at which point they will have two weeks to accept the scholarship and until July to select a qualified provider.
Like On My Way Pre-K, the state’s pre-k pilot program, families that receive a scholarship can only use it at a provider that is a Level 3 or 4 on PTQ. But unlike the state’s program, the Indianapolis program accepts both three- and four-year-olds, whereas the state’s program focuses on four-year-olds.
Over the next five years, around $55 million will go into the scholarship program, with money coming from the city, philanthropic and corporate matches, as well as the state’s contribution for On My Way Pre-K, for which Indianapolis is one of the pilot cities.
The push for pre-k in Indianapolis was a priority for Mayor Greg Ballard, who will not run for re-election in 2016. Kloth says as his office gets the program off the ground, they hope whoever is the new mayor will continue the work already started and keep the program going.
“My sense is that the candidates will be supportive of this, especially considering the overwhelming response from our community and the fact that it was passed with true bipartisan support out of the City-County Council,” Kloth says.
The overwhelming response from families means as the program continues, pre-k programs in the city will have to create more available spots to accommodate all of the students with scholarships.